Neuroscience—and the weapons of the mind

Neuroscience—and the weapons of the mind

By Robert Bruner, Filippa Lentzos

While MKULTRA is infamous for its attempts to control the mind through hypnosis and phenomena, its researchers primarily concentrated on the use of pharmaceuticals and mind-bending drugs such as hallucinogenic mushrooms, marijuana, heroin, LSD, and truth serums to make intelligence targets more cooperative in questioning and more willing to act as agents of the United States. Ultimately, the project failed because of a lack of scientific understanding of the inner workings of the brain and how to manipulate it.

But today, neuroscience appears to be breaking down previous technical barriers to the exogenous control of emotion, behavior, and ultimately the mind.

Scientific breakthroughs in the understanding of the biological basis of behavior and cognition have given rise to numerous treatments for neurological and psychiatric disorders. These treatments have improved the quality of life for many people all over the world. But these technologies have dual-use potential.

Psychiatric drugs and brain stimulation stand out as neurotechnologies of particular concern. But what are the on-the-ground realities of these technologies—what is the potential for converting clinical uses of behavioral neuroscience to the battlefield? Is it technically possible to alter brain chemistry in order to introduce novel emotions, cause cognitive shifts, and affect behavior? YES…

Dr. James Giordano, Chief of the Neuroethics Studies Program and Scholar-in-Residence in the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics at Georgetown University, speaks to cadets and faculty about how advancements in neuroscience and neurotechnology will impact the future of war. This event was hosted by the Modern War Institute at West Point.

 

If mass-produced, weaponized, and spread further afield, the same drugs that show promise as substitutes for psychological torture could be used as neurochemical weapons that alter the emotions of a nation’s armed forces, or that quickly change hearts and minds within a civilian population by influencing the visceral reaction to a military campaign. The most threatening neurochemical weapons—and the most likely to be used—are hypnotic drugs that reduce alertness, sedate, and anaesthetize. Psychedelic drugs, however, which alter cognition, emotion, and behavior, also have potential for battlefield deployment because of their ability to disorient and simulate psychosis. Numerous microbes and toxins that target the nervous system also have potential to affect decisions about whether to fight or surrender and could significantly impede adversarial soldiers.

Mind control back in vogue!

Make no mistake, neuroscience can be misused to alter emotions or memories, covertly implant ideas, or cause cognitive shifts. However, significant technical challenges remain—again, operationalizing neuroweapons is extremely difficult. Yet while it is unlikely that promises of mind control will be realized by neuroweapons, it would be naïve to assume that approaches to behavioral control will not become more refined over time. Obstacles to behavioral control also present themselves to psychiatrists treating disease and, as better psychiatric treatments continue to be pursued, barriers to the malignant use of neuroscience will lower. Neuroscience can be weaponized and deployed by actors willing to expend the time, money, and resources necessary.

International humanitarian and armament law represent crucially important components in governing the development and use of neuroweapons. On the surface, these legal standards prohibit neuroweapons. Their strength, however, has been weakened by ambiguities and by the defiance of state actors. For instance, because international bodies had failed to provide guidance about which specific actions constituted torture, the Bush administration was able to argue that its “enhanced interrogations” of Guantánamo Bay prisoners did not meet the severity threshold of pain or mental injury required by international law—and thus could not be considered torture under existing treaties. In the context of state attempts at behavioral control, arguments similar to those of the Bush administration could be used to explain away the use of pharmaceuticals or neurotechnology that malevolently altered the inner workings of the brain. The prohibition of neurochemical weapons under armament law is much stronger, but here too, loopholes and ambiguities exist. Chemical weapons intended for riot control are not prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention, for instance; this provides space for states to legally develop incapacitating weapons under the guise of developing a domestic riot control agent, and then rapidly convert neurochemical weapons for use in conflict.

Another challenge to the governance framework is the possibility that, as the technologies described here become more developed, perceptions of their utility may shift—just as barriers to the development and use of biological weapons are decreasing. For example, some observers argue that not only are drugs permissible if (by simulating a state of euphoria and positive emotions) they make a person talk, but that they are a morally superior substitute for torture and “enhanced interrogation.” The allure of behavioral-control capability could change nations’ existing sociopolitical calculations about the utility of neuroscience-based weapons and drive further military and intelligence development of neuroweapons. Troublingly, these shifting perceptions—matched with increasing geopolitical turbulence and a shift away from state-centric conflict—could make behavioral control seem ever more tempting.

An increasingly multipolar world is emerging—one in which rising powers view human rights, justice, transparency, and the use of force differently. Therefore, challenges to humanitarian and armament law will only increase. To monitor the conversion of behavioral neuroscience from benign medical treatments into malignant weapons, and to shape how neuroweapons may be perceived and used, the international community must attach the utmost importance to strengthening the normative and legal framework that is embodied in multilateral treaties and national laws and regulations. The medical standards that doctors and scientists are obliged to uphold, as well as codes of practice and research ethics, must also be strengthened in view of the potential misuse of behavioral neuroscience. The containment of neuroweapons relies on the strength of norms—from the top down and from the bottom up—against the use of torture, unconventional weapons, and the militant use of neuroscience. Both scientists and the international community must remain vigilant about preventing behavioral neuroscience from leaking into the security realm.

Magnus Olsson implanted with Transhumanist remote neural monitoring implants

Magnus Olsson implanted with Transhumanist remote neural monitoring implants

Very few people are aware of the actual link between neuroscience, cybernetics, artificial intelligence, neuro-chips, transhumanism, the science cyborg, robotics, somatic surveillance, behavior control, the thought police and human enhancement.

They all go hand in hand, and never in our history before, has this issue been as important as it is now.

One reason is that this technology, that begun to develop in the early 1950s is by now very advanced but the public is unaware of it and it goes completely unregulated. There is also a complete amnesia about its early development. The CIA funded experiments on people without consent through leading universities and by hiring prominent neuroscientists of that time. These experiments have since the 50s been brutal, destroying every aspect of a person’s life, while hiding behind curtains of National Security and secrecy but also behind psychiatry diagnosis.

future of humanity

The second is that its backside –mind reading, thought police, surveillance, pre-crime, behavior modification, control of citizen’s behavior; tastes, dreams, feelings and wishes; identities; personalities and not to mention the ability to torture and kill anyone from a distance — is completely ignored. All the important ethical issues dealing with the most special aspects of being a free human being living a full human life are completely dismissed. The praise of the machine in these discourses dealing with not only transhumanism ideals but also neuroscience today has a cost and that is complete disrespect, despise and underestimation of human beings, at least when it comes to their bodies, abilities and biological functions.

transhumanism

The brain is though seen as the only valuable thing; not just because of its complexity and mysteries, but also because it can create consciousness and awareness. We’re prone to diseases, we die, we make irrational decisions, we’re inconsistent, and we need someone to look up to. In a radio interview on Swedish “Filosofiska rummet” entitled “Me and my new brain” (Jag och min nya hjärna), neuroscientist Martin Ingvar referred to the human body as a “bad frame for the brain”. Questions about individual free will and personal identity were discussed and the point of view of Martin Ingvar was very much in line with José Delgado’s some 60 years ago, and its buried history of mind control: we don’t really have any choice, we’re not really having a free will or for that matter any consistent personality. This would be enough reason to change humans to whatever someone else wishes. For example, an elite.

Mind Control – Remote Neural Monitoring: Daniel Estulin and Magnus Olsson on Russia Today

Mind Control – Remote Neural Monitoring: Daniel Estulin and Magnus Olsson on Russia Today

This show, with the original title “Control mental. El sueño dorado de los dueños del mundo” (Mind control. The golden dream of the world’s masters) — broadcasted to some 45 million people — was one of the biggest victories for victims of implant technologies so far. Thanks to Magnus Olsson, who, despite being victimized himself, worked hard for several years to expose one the biggest human rights abuses of our times – connecting people against their will and knowledge to computers via implants of the size of a few nanometers – leading to a complete destruction of not only their lives and health, but also personalities and identities.

Very few people are aware of the actual link between neuroscience, cybernetics, artificial intelligence, neuro-chips, transhumanism, the science cyborg, robotics, somatic surveillance, behavior control, the thought police and human enhancement.

They all go hand in hand, and never in our history before, has this issue been as important as it is now.

One reason is that this technology, that begun to develop in the early 1950s is by now very advanced but the public is unaware of it and it goes completely unregulated. There is also a complete amnesia about its early development, as Lars Drudgaard of ICAACT, mentioned in one of his interviews last year. The CIA funded experiments on people without consent through leading universities and by hiring prominent neuroscientists of that time. These experiments have since the 50s been brutal, destroying every aspect of a person’s life, while hiding behind curtains of National Security and secrecy but also behind psychiatry diagnosis.

future of humanity

The second is that its backside –mind reading, thought police, surveillance, pre-crime, behavior modification, control of citizen’s behavior; tastes, dreams, feelings and wishes; identities; personalities and not to mention the ability to torture and kill anyone from a distance — is completely ignored. All the important ethical issues dealing with the most special aspects of being a free human being living a full human life are completely dismissed. The praise of the machine in these discourses dealing with not only transhumanism ideals but also neuroscience today has a cost and that is complete disrespect, despise and underestimation of human beings, at least when it comes to their bodies, abilities and biological functions. The brain is though seen as the only valuable thing; not just because of its complexity and mysteries, but also because it can create consciousness and awareness. We’re prone to diseases, we die, we make irrational decisions, we’re inconsistent, and we need someone to look up to. In a radio interview on Swedish “Filosofiska rummet” entitled “Me and my new brain” (Jag och min nya hjärna), neuroscientist Martin Ingvar referred to the human body as a “bad frame for the brain”.  Questions about individual free will and personal identity were discussed and the point of view of Martin Ingvar was very much in line with José Delgado’s some 60 years ago, and its buried history of mind control: we don’t really have any choice, we’re not really having a free will or for that matter any consistent personality. This would be enough reason to change humans to whatever someone else wishes. For example, an elite.

operator nsa

Another reason for why this issue dealing with brain implants is important of course is the fact that both the US and the EU pour billions of dollars and euros in brain research every single year, a brain research very focused on not only understanding the brain, but also highly focused on merging human beings with machines; using neuro-implants to correct behavior and enhance intelligence; creating robots and other machines that think and make autonomous intelligent decisions — just like humans do.

Ray Kurzweil, who’s predictions about future technological developments have been correct at least until now, claims that in 20 years, implant-technology has advanced that far that humanity has been completely transformed by it. We cannot know right now whether he’s prediction is right or wrong, but we have the right to decide on the kind of future we want. I do not know if eradicating humanity as we know it is the best future or the only alternative. Today, we might still have a choice.

Something to think about: Can you research the depths of the human brain on mice?

Copyright Carmen Lupan

Scientists Warn of Ethical Battle Concerning Military Mind Control

Scientists Warn of Ethical Battle Concerning Military Mind Control    

future of humanity

Advances in neuroscience are closer than ever to becoming a reality, but scientists are warning the military – along with their peers – that with great power comes great responsibility

imagesCAN4XTAX

March 20, 2012

A future of brain-controlled tanks, automated attack drones and mind-reading interrogation techniques may arrive sooner than later, but advances in neuroscience that will usher in a new era of combat come with tough ethical implications for both the military and scientists responsible for the technology, according to one of the country’s leading bioethicists.

“Everybody agrees that conflict will be changed as new technologies are coming on,” says Jonathan Moreno, author of Mind Wars: Brain Science and the Military in the 21st Century. “But nobody knows where that technology is going.”

Evo-Grid

[See pictures of Navy SEALs]Moreno warns in an essay published in the science journal PLoS Biology Tuesday that the military’s interest in neuroscience advancements “generates a tension in its relationship with science.”

“The goals of national security and the goals of science may conflict. The latter employs rigorous standards of validation in the expansion of knowledge, while the former depends on the most promising deployable solutions for the defense of the nation,” he writes.

Much of neuroscience focuses on returning function to people with traumatic brain injuries, he says. Just as Albert Einstein didn’t know his special theory of relativity could one day be used to create a nuclear weapon, neuroscience research intended to heal could soon be used to harm.

“Neuroscientists may not consider how their work contributes to warfare,” he adds.

mind control

Moreno says there is a fine line between using neuroscience devices to allow an injured person to regain baseline functions and enhancing someone’s body to perform better than their natural body ever could.

“Where one draws that line is not obvious, and how one decides to cross that line is not easy. People will say ‘Why would we want to deny warfighters these advantages?'” he says.

[Mind Control, Biometrics Could Change the World]

Moreno isn’t the only one thinking about this. The Brookings Institution’s Peter Singer writes in his book, Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century, that “‘the Pentagon’s real-world record with things like the aboveground testing of atomic bombs, Agent Orange, and Gulf War syndrome certainly doesn’t inspire the greatest confidence among the first generation of soldiers involved [in brain enhancement research.]”

The military, scientists and ethicists are increasingly wondering how neuroscience technology changes the battlefield. The staggering possibilities are further along than many think. There is already development on automated drones that are programmed to make their own decisions about who to kill within the rules of war. Other ideas that are closer-than-you-think to becoming a military reality: Tanks controlled from half a world away, memory erasures that could prevent PTSD, and “brain fingerprinting” that could be used to extract secrets from enemies.Moreno foretold some of these developments when he first published Mind Wars in 2006, but not without trepidation.

“I was afraid I’d be dismissed as a paranoid schizophrenic when I first published the book,” he says. But then a funny thing happened—the Department of Defense and other military groups began holding panels on neurotechnology to determine how and when it should be used. I was surprised how quickly the policy questions moved forward. Questions like: ‘Can we use autonomous attack drones?’ ‘Must there be a human being in the vehicle?’ ‘How much of a payload can it have?’. There are real questions coming up in the international legal community.”

All of those questions will have to be answered sooner than later, Moreno says, along with a host of others. Should soldiers have the right to refuse “experimental” brain implants? Will the military want to use some of this technology before science deems it safe?

“There’s a tremendous tension about this,” he says. “There’s a great feeling of responsibility that we push this stuff out so we’re ahead of our adversaries.”

Original:  http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/03/20/scientists-warn-of-ethical-battle-concerning-military-mind-control?s_cid=related-links:TOP